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Part II: Leveraging the ITIL Service Support Framework

By Christopher Ciccolini & Michael McDermott In Part II of this two-part series, the authors discuss how Change, Configuration and Release Management relate and benefit Service Desk performance, as well as other factors to consider before implementing a best practice regimen. Read Part I here.
May 14, 2004
By

ITSM Watch Staff





By Christopher Ciccolini & Michael McDermott

It is critical to recognize that each of these processes -- Change Management, Configuration Management, and Release Management -- is not a stand-alone endeavor, but is interdependent upon the other processes and really on the entire IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) framework.

The development of a master configuration database is, of course, essential to the ability to perform effective change management. Only by truly understanding the relationships between and among assets and elements of the IT infrastructure can a proposed change be properly evaluated in terms of its impact.

Likewise, it is only through release management that the approved changes can be effectively integrated into the live environment with minimal impact through effective planning, scheduling, and training.

As outlined below, these processes in turn impact, and are impacted by, the front-line Service Desk at multiple points as well:

  • The Service Desk is a point of entry for change requests from the user community into the Change Management process.
  • The Service Desk benefits from the understanding of the complex interrelationships between and among elements in the IT infrastructure that is the province of Configuration Management, and can leverage that understanding in diagnosing, resolving, or escalating user incidents.
  • The Service Desk is the direct beneficiary of the Release Management process. Most importantly, knowledge transfer is conducted to equip the Service Desk to respond to user incidents relating to the release of a new or changed element in the IT infrastructure.

    It is under the aegis of Release Management that a joint effort is undertaken by resources from the Service Desk and other IT groups to transfer in-depth knowledge for support purposes. It is also under this discipline that users are identified and trained on any new or changed elements that may impact them, as a way to forestall support incidents.

The relationship of the ITIL disciplines to each other and to the Service Desk is illustrated below:

Benefits
The benefits of implementing Configuration, Change Management, and Release Management to the Service Desk are substantial. They include:

Fewer Overall Incidents
By thoroughly assessing the impact of a change to the infrastructure via Change Management and Configuration Management before taking action, support incidents driven by the change can be reduced.

Better Resolution Rates at the Service Desk
When knowledge transfer to the Service Desk happens as part of the Release Management process, the Service Desk receives the tools and knowledge it needs to resolve user requests for support.

The benefits to the IT organization and the enterprise as a whole are perhaps even more compelling:

More Efficient Business Operations
Fewer support incidents means users are more productive and the business is more profitable.

A More Effective IT Operation
Thorough checks mean that the IT organization makes effective, well-considered decisions and doesn't spend its time undoing ill-informed decisions and/or mopping up unforeseen consequences. The resolution of more support incidents at the Service Desk puts higher-level IT resources on a proactive footing and gives them time to focus on strategic efforts.

Reduced Support Costs
Fewer support incidents and the resolution of more incidents at the Service Desk radically reduce the support budget.

Satisfied Users
A reduced need for support and the availability of highly effective support when needed makes for a far more contented user base.

Better Understanding of User Needs
The Change Management process, using the Service Desk as a sourcing mechanism, provides IT with real insight into the evolving needs of the user community it serves, and provides a means to act on these needs in a structured, logical manner.


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